beautiful interior books

I sometime wonder whether people think those of us who work in interiors magically think of all the things we do all by ourselves.  But mostly we don’t. I read anything and everything that comes across my path.  I am always looking for inspiration, filling my mind with gorgeous images.  And I love having books and magazines around me all the time.  There is always a pile on my desk.  I wouldn’t be without them.  I love seeing what other people are doing, and how I can adapt that for my clients, my styling work and myself. Here are four books that have been sitting on my desk for a while as I have enjoyed all of them, each for different reasons.


Kevin McCloud is part of our design psyche now here in New Zealand, and no doubt all over the world.  With his wonderful series Grand Designs, we have been watching and listening to him for fourteen years now.  He is a very level headed man with a wonderful eye (and voice) and his Principles Of Home is a book I always recommend to clients whenever they start a large renovation project as he just talks so much sense. His recent book The Best of Grand Designs features many of our viewing favourites from modernist new builds, to re-purposed old water towers (the Lutyens Water Tower is one of my all time favourites) to conversions of barns, castles, and more.  We are so very used to the fact that we can build anything we want in New Zealand (within building regulations, architects imaginings and budgets) that I think we often forget it doesn’t happen as conventionally overseas as it does here. So I love the case studies that include the conversions of barns and castles, the re-purposing of structures like the old water towers, as we don’t see them as often as you do in the UK. But my favourite section in the book is the Cosy Homes chapter. With my two all-time favourite homes featured, the Suffolk House by architect Jerry Tate, and the beautiful Cornish home designed by owner Kathryn Tyler and Ian Tyrell making use of a tiny piece of sloped land. Both of them are small spaced, but beautifully designed and built to fit their owner’s needs perfectly.  The Best Of Grand Designs by Kevin McCloud is published by Harper Collins and retails for $45


While we are talking about converted houses, it seems there are more of them than I could have possibly imagined right here in New Zealand.  Converted Houses, New Zealand architecture recycled with photography by Daniel Allen and Text by Lucinda Diack showcases amazing examples of New Zealand’s early architecture now being recycled (I love the use of that word) into extraordinary homes.  Using what is best about the space, and converting it into something so much more than it was.  With houses from New Plymouth, Auckland, Akaroa, Taupo and many more – the converted school houses, railway stations, churches, flour mills, dairy factories and even an old council chambers make for interesting reading.  I love that what we do is coloured by our can-do spirit, with many of the projects managed and built by the owners themselves. With beautiful photographs by Daniel Allen and insightful text accompanying each home by Lucinda Diack – this is a great resource. Converted Houses New Zealand architecture recycled photographs by Daniel Allen and text by Lucinda Diack is published by Penguin Books and retails for $65


Often when we are looking for interior design books, we look for the most ‘modern’ looking one thinking this will give us the best inspiration.  But sometimes going back to the more classic looks can give us a wonderful starting point. English Decoration, Timeless Inspiration for the Contemporary Home by Ben Pentreath is just such a book.  Having spent 6 years in London, I do realize that much of my own style is heavily influenced by the time I spent in Europe. This book is a perfect example of the mixing of many periods (Georgian mixed with Moroccan mixed with Scandinavian) that the English do so very well. With pieces handed down through families, and objects bought to be kept rather than there being any need to keep up with a trend, these are timeless and beautiful homes. What I have loved about this book is the incredible colours used throughout the book, as well as all the amazing textiles. These again, are not home for minimalists, with rooms filled with beautiful furniture and objects. My favourite section of the book is chapter IV Eating & Cooking. With some of the most beautiful, timeless kitchens I have seen, these are spaces that haven’t been stripped out and then reconstructed with a modern mindset, but rather old spaces that have been handled with care. It is exceptionally hard to work out the time period of the renovation, or indeed if there has even been one! That to me is the mark of a good, sympathetic renovation.  But then I have never been one to install a super modern kitchen myself.  I like a bit of timelessness about these spaces we cook and eat in.  Even bathrooms can benefit from a bit of the lovely old tongue and groove paneling, pedestal basins and claw foot baths. This book particularly highlights the beautiful colours used in historical England, with beautiful yellows, blues, and deep greys. Some of the homes have been/are owned by Pentreath himself, but many others are owned by friends and neighbours.   The houses have not been ‘styled’ and it feels like the photographer has just been invited in to pop in for a moment (in the very best sort of way). Pentreath has a great blog and store in London – have a look at the blog, it is just wonderful. English Decoration Timeless Inspiration for The Contemporary Home by Ben Pentreath with photographs by Jan Baldwin is distributed by and retails for $69


The last book is HOME by NOVOGRATZ.  This renegade couple, Robert and Cortney Novogratz have seven children and an interior design business that has been going for years. With the book starting with an introduction from Julia Roberts, you know it is going to be different.  The book is full of their tips and tricks for using colour, dealing with difficult spaces – we get to see them being used in some high profile homes with Tony Hawk’s ski condo and Suzanne Vegas apartment in Manhattan as well as some not so famous (but equally fabulous) homes. Each project has a budget, and exactly what they did to the space. With budgets as small as $15,000 through to a more weighty $110,000 (USD) there is a wide range of what is achievable.  They do all this with a liberal dose of fun and never a nod to subtlety – they like all their design on show.  Their own holiday home in Brazil is featured and it is amazing.  It recently featured on the cover of Living Etc.  HOME by NOVOGRATZ is distributed by and retails for $72

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